3 hot takeaways as Raptors win first game without Pascal Siakam

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 28: Thaddeus Young #21 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images
TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 28: Thaddeus Young #21 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images /
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After Toronto Raptors star Pascal Siakam went down with a groin injury, it was fair to wonder if Fred VanVleet and Christian Koloko were going to be capable of shouldering the immense burden Siakam puts on his shoulders every game. After their first test against the Chicago Bulls, Toronto responded fairly well.

Toronto pulled off a 113-104 in which VanVleet scored 31 points, Koloko was dominant on the interior, and Scottie Barnes continued his hot start to the season. The Raptors were able to take advantage of a Bulls team that lacked Zach LaVine and Lonzo Ball in the backcourt, but this was an impressive win nonetheless.

The Raptors proved that even without their best half-court scorer and rebounder, they can scrape together enough timely shots to take down a solid opponent. Nick Nurse pushed all the right buttons in this game, reintroducing Thad Young and leaning on VanVleet despite his return from injury.

Now that the Raptors have shown, at least for one game and a solid fourth quarter against the Mavericks, that they can perform well against quality competition without Siakam, it’s time to take stock of Toronto’s performance in the last few games. Are there any developments that could have some staying power?

3 takeaways after the Toronto Raptors beat Bulls without Pascal Siakam

3. Thad Young needs to be a rotation piece

Young’s first full season with the Raptors has not gone according to plan, as he found himself quickly removed from the rotation amid the emergence of Koloko, trade speculation, and his own slow start. Pressed into service due to injuries, Young showed that he needs to be a regular fixture going forward.

Young recorded four points and eight rebounds (four offensive) in just 16 minutes on the floor. The fact that he was a +25 in that time span while piling up the boards shows that he is still the same veteran glue guy that he was last year. Masai Ujiri didn’t give up a first-round pick for nothing, after all.

Thad Young was dynamic for the Toronto Raptors.

While there is value in having Young be the sage soothsayer for a young Raptors team that features several players who mimic his style of play, making him a healthy scratch is a waste of his talents. Young has overhauled his game at this point in his career, becoming a great rebounder, passer, and defender at the expense of scoring.

Those skills are all going to be needed while Siakam gets back to full health. Running a 10-man rotation with no bench guards sounds like an outrageous idea, but the combination of Young’s play and Nurse’s desire to do unconventional things could make that a reality.